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Anarchist icon Emma Goldman’s warning about capitalism from jail, 1893
06.23.2014
10:08 am

Topics:
Class War
History

Tags:
Anarchism
Emma Goldman

emma g mugshot
 
Red Emma’s mugshot

When state senator Wendy Davis held her 11-hour filibuster in Texas last year to block Senate Bill 5 and its restrictions on abortion, it was hard not to think how much better (and entertaining) anarchist firebrand “Red Emma” Goldman would have been if she’d have been the one speaking for so many hours. Davis incited a loud but well-behaved demonstration outside the capitol building in Austin. If Emma had been the orator, there would have been an actual riot. And fires.

Journalist Nelly Bly did a series of profiles of well-known anarchists for The New York World in 1893. She visited 25-year-old Emma in the notorious Tombs jail in New York City shortly after her arrest for inciting a riot at the Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia. Emma was demurely waiting for her friends to bail her out prior to the trial, where she was found guilty and sentenced to a year at Blackwell’s Island Penitentiary. After the obligatory description of Emma’s appearance and clothes (“a little bit of a girl” with “pretty and girlish” hair and dressed in “modest blue serge Eton suit, with a blue muslin shirtwaist and scarf” ), Bly elicited a prescient quote about, among other topics (like free love and marriage), capitalists:

Everything wrong, crime and sickness and all that, is the result of the system under which we live, she continued earnestly. ‘Were there no money, and as a result, no capitalists, people would not be over-worked, starved and ill-housed, all of which makes them old before their time, diseases them and makes them criminals. To save a dollar the capitalists build their railroads poorly, and along comes a train, and loads of people are killed. What are their lives to him if by their sacrifice he has saved money? But those deaths mean misery, want and crime in many, many families. According to Anarchistic principles, we build the best of railroads, so there shall be no accidents… Instead of running a few cars at a frightful speed, in order to save a larger expense, we should run many cars at slow speed, and so have no accidents.’

‘If you do away with money and employers, who will work upon your railroads?’ I asked.

‘Those that care for that kind of work. Then every one shall do that which he likes best, not merely a thing he is compelled to do to earn his daily bread.’

‘What will you do with the lazy ones, who would not work?’

‘No one is lazy. They grow hopeless from the misery of their present existence, and give up. Under our order of things, every man would do the work he liked, and would have as much as his neighbor, so could not be unhappy and discouraged.’

(I was going to include Emma’s famous blintz recipe, which she included in a letter to her long-time friend and lover Alexander Berkman, but to obtain a copy you have to donate $10 to the Emma Goldman Papers at the University of California at Berkeley. Other writings of hers can be found for free at the online Anarchist Library.)

Newsreel footage of Emma at a press conference upon her return to the U.S. in 1934:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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The spectacular steampunk aircrafts of Charles A. A. Dellschau
06.23.2014
08:11 am

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:
steampunk
Charles A. A. Dellschau

Dellschau
 
If you’re fond of Howard Finster, Jules Verne, Grandma Moses, or the improbable discovery of Vivian Maier’s photographs, the story of Charles A. A. Dellschau is a wildly improbable and intoxicating combination of those elements. How so? Born in 1830, Dellschau was a Prussian butcher who emigrated to the U.S. around 1849—upon his retirement a full fifty years later in 1899, he took up an intriguing hobby, to act as draftsman for the “Sonora Aero Club” of Houston, Texas, a club interested in kooky aeronautical crafts about which it is unclear whether it even existed. What is clear is that between the ages of 69 and his death in 1923 at the age of 92, Dellschau filled at least 13 notebooks with approximately 2,500 utterly awesome large-format drawings and collages around the theme of steampunk-ish dirigibles and other flying machines. Rebecca J. Rosen elaborates:
 

Dealers and historians eventually tracked down some additional Dellschau works, including a series of three journals called Recolections [sic], that also tell the story of the Sonora Aero Club and its inventions, with “ink drawings of fanciful airships that ... look for all the world as if they had flown off the pages of a Jules Verne novel,” as flight historian Tom D. Crouch describes them.

All together, the shoestring-bound books contain some 2,000 pages, each a double-sided collage replete with calligraphy (often in a code that is still today only partially deciphered), drawings, and newspaper clippings. (Dellschau referred to the clippings as “press blooms,” as though they were preserved flowers.) Each page—or “plate,” as Dellschau called them—is dated and numbered, though the counting starts at number 1601. The estimated 10 volumes with the first 1,600 drawings are presumed lost or destroyed.

 
According to Dellschau’s writings, the club was a secret group of flight enthusiasts who met at Sonora, California in the mid-19th century; one of the members had discovered the formula for an anti-gravity fuel he called “NB Gas.” Anti-gravity fuel! Even if that development never worked out, the vitality and energy of drawings Dellschau made in his 80s would humble most of the twentysomething art school students you would encounter today.

Curiously, there are traces of the Aero Club in lots of places in California—just not in Sonora. According to historian Tracy Baker-White:

“I haven’t found them in Sonora in the 1850s, but I’ve found them in Napa Valley in 1900, or in San Francisco in 1872, or in Stockton in 1872. There are possible links, but there’s nothing that is in Sonora.”

We often use the words “rare,” “unseen,” “unknown” to describe seldom-seen videos or paintings, and often it isn’t quite right, it’s just that very few people have seen them. In the case of Dellschau, however, it really seems to be true that between the years of 1923 and sometime in the 1960s, his work was actually, literally unknown. His works ended up in a landfill, and if not for the eagle eye of used furniture dealer Fred Washington, they’d remain unknown today. Since then, Dellschau’s spectacular works have received their due attention, including exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum in New York and the Whitechapel Gallery in London. For an overview of Dellschau’s work, see Charles Dellschau by Thomas McEvilley et al.
 
Dellschau
 
Dellschau
 
Dellschau
 
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Dellschau
 
More incredible pics of Dellschau’s work, plus a UFO expert tries to bring Dellschau into the fold—all after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Bin Laden may not exist’: Did Thomas Pynchon give this 9/11 interview to Japan’s Playboy… or not?
06.20.2014
08:29 am

Topics:
Books
History
Media

Tags:
Thomas Pynchon
Osama bin Laden

Pynchon & Bin Laden
 
Novelist Thomas Pynchon has a slightly overstated reputation as a literary recluse. After three ambitious novels between 1963 and 1973—the last of which, Gravity’s Rainbow, has a pretty strong claim as the best and most important U.S. novel written after 1970—Pynchon took a break from publishing new work that lasted 17 years. There are only a handful of existing photographs of Pynchon, and they’re all grainy black-and-white shots from early in his life. Despite living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for many years, not many people know what he looks like.

But he’s no J.D. Salinger. Since 1997 he’s published four novels; measured by number of pages, his post-1997 output must far outstrip the three novels and handful of short stories that established his reputation. He pops up here and there, lending liner notes to Nobody’s Cool, an album by the indie rock band Lotion, or Spiked!, a collection of tunes by Spike Jones, whom Pynchon has cited as a key influence on his work.

Pynchon’s cult of personality is strong enough that the question of his extra-fictional writings is no casual matter. So when a brief piece by Pynchon pops up in, of all places, the Japanese edition of Playboy a few months after 9/11 urging readers to regard Osama bin Laden as a “symbol,” that’s the kind of thing that sets the Pynchon obsessives to speculating. There’s not any obvious reason to believe that the article was faked, save Pynchon’s track record of pranks and the unlikely venue. It’s just barely mysterious enough that you might see it referred to as Pynchon’s “interview about bin Laden”—complete with skeptical quotation marks. Its very existence is a bit of a puzzle.
 
Japanese Playboy
 
The item exists, for English readers, in translation only, one executed by the diligent “Naoki” of the Pynchon-L newsgroup. It’s important that the piece is billed as an “interview,” because only that would explain the relatively pedestrian quality of the words. (Try to imagine James Joyce translated into Japanese and back into English again. The original text and the outcome might not be all that similar.) The text does seem tolerably Pynchonian. He remarks that he’s afraid to use the subway; there’s more about anthrax than you would find in a remembrance of 9/11 written today; he says that he can’t trust the New York Times anymore; he discusses the anomic qualities of the CNN newscasters.

Most interesting is his plea to stop taking Osama bin Laden so seriously. It’s one of those insights that’s obviously correct but also functionally useless: we were always going to take Osama bin Laden very seriously. As he says, “Even if the United States succeeds in killing him that would mean that there are still 19 bin Ladens left. Even if there is only one, there are probably many people who would take his place once they kill bin Laden. ... If we look at this from a different point-of-view, we should look at bin Laden as a symbol rather than a man. Bin Laden may not even exist.

Here’s Naoki’s translation of the “interview,” with a few typos corrected:
 

Most News Is Propaganda. Bin Laden May Not Exist.

All people who live in New York today have been talking about recently is whether they have been to the site of the World Trade Center. This is because it has become a “trendy” topic. Personally, I still cannot find myself wanting to go see the site.

The main thing that has changed in my life-style recently is the fact that I do not ride the subway anymore. Before, I got on the subway wherever I went but today, I never ride the subway in fear of biological weapons. After all, there was the case with the Tokyo Sarin Gas. I believe that the damage that can be caused by the biological weapon called anthrax is increasing and we are in a situation where someone could use biological weapons at any time.

The media station that is consistently giving reports on this terrorist case is CNN. Because everybody watches CNN, it would be safe to say that the news being watched by all of the citizens is the same. However, it is dangerous when people start to believe that what they see is real news.

For the television stations this kind of situation should be a great chance to express their individuality. However, the only thing the newscasters do is read the news in a monotonous voice or when the news comes on during the report, all they do is spit out the words they receive. In any case, they talk with the mere intention of filling up the time they have on air.

The adjective “affect less” best fits the way the newscasters talk. It is a way of expression that has no connection to the human being and no emotional power at all. I deprecate this way of expression. If you listen closely to those words, it doesn’t sound like real news. It sounds more like propaganda.

Talking of propaganda, what changed the most due to the terrorist incident is The New York Times. Until recently, I would wake up an hour early to go buy this newspaper but now, there it isn’t even worth the time to sit down and read it. Even before I place my hips in the seat, I am already finished reading it by flipping through the pages. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that there is hardly any useful news. It is mostly propaganda.

The news on how there are more antibiotics to anthrax other than cipro was a little useful, but that kind of useful news has become a rarity. The New York Times is usually known to be the most reliable source of media when doing research on something that happened twenty to thirty years ago. However, that is no longer the case. The most reliable newspaper that is read by educated people today is probably England’s The Guardian. Everyone is reading it on the internet. I also believe that a lot of the information coming out of the White House is also propaganda.

The problem is that common people cannot make a distinction between news and propaganda. On the contrary, the news sent out from Israel is extremely reliable.

In any case, once a war happens, the war for media becomes a great significance and even the newspapers that look decent at first glance, you can no longer trust. About a hundred years ago, the man who started publishing the Daily Mile said the following: “News is something somebody wants to suppress. Everything else is propaganda.”

Therefore, all information that can be obtained without difficult coverage, even though it may be from the White House, you can think of as propaganda.

Bin Laden should be looked upon as a symbol

The United States has always had a tendency to look for an enemy. It is a country that cannot stand not having one. Even for this terrorist incident, it is already determined that the villain behind all of this is bin Laden, but in reality they are saying that because they cannot stand not doing so. I believe that bin Laden is someone’s clown for a rodeo.

Although my thoughts are always paranoid, I believe that I’m the only one who feels this way. It is said that NSA is on a lookout for him but I think that like an onion, new layers will be discovered. No matter how I look at the situation, it doesn’t seem like bin Laden is doing this independently. The only impression that I get is that he is some kind of star actor.

Honestly speaking, we cannot even tell if the face that comes out on television and on the newspapers is his real face. I remember someone saying right after the terrorist incident, “Come on, you want bin Laden? We’ll give you 20 of him.” Even if the United States succeeds in killing him that would mean that there are still 19 bin Ladens left. Even if there is only one, there are probably many people who would take his place once they kill bin Laden.

If we look at this from a different point-of-view, we should look at bin Laden as a symbol rather than a man. Bin Laden may not even exist.

The other day when I was surfing the net, it said that the punishment that suits bin Laden the best is to catch him alive, bring him to a hospital, give him a transexual operation, and send him back to Afghanistan. He would then understand the disservice done to the women in Afghanistan.

We cannot forget that many of bin Laden’s brothers were partners with George Bush Jr. for the purpose of oil ventures in the past. The doctor who is known to be at bin Laden’s side at all times was a member of the group who killed Sadat. When that assassination happened, Egypt became involved and there must have been people who fled to Afghanistan.

What is often said is that it is the United State’s wealth that is the cause of the terrorists’ hatred. I can understand their feelings well. When I see a wealthy person, I instinctively feel anger deep in my stomach. If you think about how Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, it is only natural for them to feel hatred toward the wealthy United States. They have no other choice but to detest them.

Even if the United States stops their support for Israel, I don’t think that everything will become peaceful. However, from their point-of-view this is the origin of all Israel’s mistakes.

On a final note, if I were to vigorously invest in something right now, I would invest in the tobacco industry. After that incident, people who had stopped smoking before have started it again.

 

On the Pynchon Wiki, two presumably well-informed commenters offer their opinion that the bin Laden piece is authentic. The reasoning of commenter “Bleakhaus” is fairly persuasive.
 

I for one am inclined to believe its authenticity. It expresses many of Pynchon’s longest- and deepest-held thoughts:

Paranoia - afraid to ride subway.
Extended thoughts on his distrust of news media - mentions CNN in particular (same station that tracked him down at one point).
He suggests that he used to like the New York Times - in fact, he wrote numerous articles for the Times.
Bin Laden as a symbol - 9/11 is treated symbolically in Against the Day.
sense of humor - consistent with Pynchon’s sense of humor in Against the Day.
The Playboy Japan article also quoted John Updike, Thomas Friedman and others. It would be odd that a bogus Pynchon interview would end up mixed in with those legitimate interviews.
Hating the rich - a very strong theme in Against the Day.

Finally, like Pynchon’s Simpsons appearance, the whole thing is just too unusual to be invented. Playboy Japan, of all things?

 

Obviously, 9/11 is an ideal subject for a writer who plumbed the subject of paranoia so thoroughly in The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity’s Rainbow. What “Bleakhaus” couldn’t have known when he or she wrote this is that, while Against the Day (2006) may touch on 9/11 symbolically, his 2013 book Bleeding Edge deals with it literally—it’s part of the book’s plot.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Bone music’: Soviet-era bootleg records of banned rock and jazz pressed on X-ray plates

X-ray records
 
What do you do if you’re living in the USSR in, say, 1957, and you’d like to press an illegal record of some banned rock and roll or jazz? Consumer tape recorders don’t exist, and in the USSR, vinyl is difficult to come by. How do you proceed?

One thing you might do is press your contraband beats into discarded X-rays. A police state does wonders for the sheer inventiveness of its citizens, does it not? Clever Russians eager to hear some liberating rock and roll would salvage exposed X-rays from hospital waste bins and archives and use them to make records.

In the 1946-1961 era, some ingenious Russians began recording banned bootlegged jazz, boogie woogie and rock ‘n’ roll on exposed X-ray film. The thick radiographs would be cut into discs of 23 to 25 centimeters in diameter; sometimes the records weren’t circular. But the exact shape didn’t matter so much, as long as the thing played.

“Usually it was the Western music they wanted to copy,” says Sergei Khrushchev, the son of Nikita Khrushchev. “Before the tape recorders they used the X-ray film of bones and recorded music on the bones, bone music.” As author Anya von Bremzen elaborates: “They would cut the X-ray into a crude circle with manicure scissors and use a cigarette to burn a hole. ... You’d have Elvis on the lungs, Duke Ellington on Aunt Masha’s brain scan—forbidden Western music captured on the interiors of Soviet citizens.”

I can’t wait until Record Store Day 2015, when limited edition X-ray releases will surely be some of the most sought-after purchases!
 
X-ray records
 
X-ray records
 
X-ray records
 
X-ray records
 
Previously on DM:
Vintage X-ray ‘vinyl’ from Russia

 
via Vinyl of the Day
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Fanny and Stella: The two Victorian gentlemen who shocked England
06.18.2014
07:52 am

Topics:
History
Queer

Tags:
Victorian
Neil McKenna
Fanny and Stella

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Victorian England is sometimes thought a stuffy, sexually oppressive, puritanical world, where one did one’s duty, where children were seen and not heard, and table legs were covered to prevent lustful thoughts. But in truth, Victorian England was a world full of hypocrisy, where sex, poverty and crime were rampant.

The great parliamentarian and Liberal politician William Gladstone was notorious for his visits to brothels where he claimed he was attempting to “rescue” fallen women. Gladstone had been an habitue of London’s bordellos since he was in his twenties with his visits to prostitutes creating feelings of guilt and remorse which he expunged by flogging himself. When Gladstone became the British Prime Minister, he was known to have invited prostitutes back to number 10 Downing Street for a cup of tea and a reading of some uplifting passage from the Bible. Happily married and a father of eight children, Gladstone kept visiting brothels until he was 82 years of age, but by then he was just watching the young girls at work.

Though it was the Protestant work ethic that was outwardly promoted, Victorian Britain was obsessed with sex. In a survey of prostitution made in 1838, James Beard Talbot noted that there were 219 brothels in Edinburgh, 770 in Liverpool, 308 in Manchester, 175 in Leeds and 194 in Norwich. In London there were 5,000 brothels. To give an idea of scale, there were only 2,150 schools, churches and charitable institutions in the great metropolis at the time. If all Europeans are supposedly related by bloodline to Charlemagne, perhaps it could be argued that most Brits alive today are related to a Victorian prostitute.

Of course not all Victorians relied on prostitutes for sexual pleasure, some, as Nigel Cawthorne describes in his book The Sex Secrets of Old England, achieved considerable gratification through the use of dildos (or “dil-dols”).

Advanced varieties were on the market in Victorian England. There were double-ended dildos that could be used by two women at the same time. Others had two prongs that penetrated vagina and anus simultaneously. Another had an attachment for the chin. There was also an astonishing amount of literature advising young ladies on the correct usage.

Those who couldn’t afford a dildo were encouraged to carve a penis-shape out of a candle, but not to use a carrot (because of its hardness) or an eau-de-cologne bottle (because of the damage it could inflict). Bananas (if available) were okay.

Queen Victoria could just about believe that homosexual men existed, but didn’t believe there could ever be lesbians, as “Women do not do such things.” Of course, there was considerable sapphic sex in the olde queen’s day and long before, with women living together as couples. The most famous was John Ferren and Deborah Nolan, two women who married in 1747 and lived disguised as man and wife until Nolan died, and husband Ferren was revealed to be a woman. Many other women disguised themselves as boys and successfully served in the British army and navy, for example Hannah Snell (1723-92), Phoebe Hessel (1713-1821) and Mary Anne Talbot (1778-1808), who went from drummer boy to powder monkey.

But in Victorian times, one of the most infamous cases was that of “Miss Fanny Park” and “Miss Stella Boulton,” whose arrest and trial became one of the era’s most shocking episodes.
 
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Misses Park and Boulton had been seen attending the Strand Theater in London, where they flirted with the men in the balcony. This pair of seemingly attractive Victorian women were in fact two men, Thomas Ernest Boulton (Fanny) and Frederick William Park (Stella).

From an early age, Boulton had identified as female and was encouraged to wear dresses. He formed a friendship with Park and the two became a theatrical double act, touring as Stella Clinton (or Mrs Graham) and Fanny Winifred Park to mainly favorable reviews. They also began frequenting houses and theaters while dressed in women’s clothing. A third man, Lord Arthur Clinton, a respected Liberal politician and godson to PM William Gladstone, became a lover/husband to Stella.
 
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Boulton, Park and Clinton (seated).
 
In April 1870, Boulton and Park attended the Strand Theater dressed as men, there they changed their clothes, and re-appeared as the glamorous Fanny and Stella. Their flirtatious behavior attracted considerable male attention, as their biographer Neil McKenna explains Fanny and Stella: The Two Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England:

Fanny and Stella were hard to fathom. They had behaved with such lewdness in their box in the stalls as to leave not the faintest shred of doubt in even the most disinterested observer that they were a pair of hardened and shameless whores. And yet, close up, Stella was revealed as a beautiful, almost aristocratic, young woman who showed flashes of an innate, and most decidedly un-whorelike, dignity and grace.

One newspaper said later that she was ‘charming as a star’, another christened her ‘Stella, Star of the Strand’. And despite all the opprobrium that would later be heaped upon her, despite all the mud that would be slung at her and all the mud that would stick to her, she never lost the mysterious aura of a great and stellar beauty.

Mrs Fanny Graham, too, was clearly a woman of some education and breeding, and was certainly very far removed from your common-or-garden whore. Here in the saloon bar, it seemed harder to reconcile their obvious quality with the ogling, tongue-waggling, chirruping lasciviousness of the stalls. They spent half an hour or so in the refreshment bar.

Before they left, Mrs Fanny Graham, unaware that she was being watched, betook herself to the Ladies’ Retiring Room and asked the attendant there to pin the lace back to the hem of her crinoline where she had trodden on it. At a quarter past ten, Mr Hugh Mundell had been despatched in ringing tones by Mrs Graham to go and call for her carriage and soon afterwards the remainder of the party made a leisurely progress to the foyer and pushed their way through the noise and confusion of an emptying theatre to the waiting conveyance.

Just as the carriage was about to depart, one of the men who had been shadowing them all that evening jumped up and swung himself in through the door.

‘I’m a police officer from Bow Street,’ he said, producing his warrant card, ‘and I have every reason to believe that you are men in female attire and you will have to come to Bow Street with me now.’

These two young ladies were arrested and charged with “conspiring and inciting persons to commit an unnatural offence.”
 
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Clinton was named in the subpoena but it is believed he committed suicide rather than face the scandal, though it has also been suggested that he fled the country to live in exile. Fanny and Stella went to trial in 1871 (along with six others) and after a long, sensational trial, all were eventually found not guilty.

Neil McKenna’s biography on Fanny and Stella is published by Faber & Faber.
 
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Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Check out these rare 1967 Velvet Underground covers from Dutch kids and U.S. soldiers in Vietnam!
06.12.2014
08:17 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Velvet Underground
Riats
Electrical Banana

ngyhfijgu
 
It’s truly amazing to think that somehow a few eager rock ‘n’ rollers, living in the Netherlands in the ‘60s, getting whatever US and UK records they could get their hands on, wind up with the first Velvets LP, grouping it in with The Beatles, Stones, Monkees, and Lovin’ Spoonful albums that they got that day. And when it was time to go for broke and make their own first record, what did they do? That’s right, pick 2 songs off that weird banana record! Think about that thought process—they didn’t pick 2 songs from 2 different bands, or one original song with a cover song on the flip side like every other band, they covered two Velvets songs! I can’t wrap my head around this. These Dutch kids saw, in 1967, what the rest of the world took about 25 years to notice. The band is called The Riats. What could the name mean? Stair backwards? Misspelling of Riots? Rats? We probably will never know.

When I first found this years ago it just about melted my mind with questions that are still unanswered. The band made several 45’s and an LP, none anything much to speak of. This is pretty great though. Take away the Velvet Underground’s mystique, vibe, danger, art, even their sunglasses, and what do you have? This solid beat dancer! Organ-dominated, with a pounding production and a great guitar solo. Phonetic babbling a go-go, lord knows they had no idea what they were saying. But “Run Run Run” is really great. The B side, a somber, sorta clunky run through of “Sunday Morning,” could be anybody making any record in 1967, but my mind is SO etched with wondering what this meant to them, and what it means to me personally that it still screws me up a bit hearing it. I really wish there was an interview from ‘67 where these guys explain why they made this 45. It’s pretty odd for a band to basically do a tribute to a totally unknown band. Especially THAT band.

Enjoy the unbelievable: The Riats, “Run, Run, Run”/“Sunday Morning,” Omega Records, 1967 (Sadly I can’t find “Sunday Morning” anywhere on the internet).
 

 
Similar but even more incredible is the saga of The Electrical Banana.
 
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In March of 1966 Dean Kohler, then of The Satellites, was drafted, and his rock ‘n’ roll dreams were put aside…for a few minutes! Dean’s amazing story, including his Vietnam sojourn, is way too much to go into here, but please check his website here, or check out his book Rock ‘n’ Roll Soldier: A Memoir. In a nutshell, he taught a buddy to play bass on the bottom four strings of a guitar supplied by their ship’s chaplain during a 28-day boat ride across the ocean. Along with roughly three thousand men were guitars, amps, and drums. Together with a drummer and another guitarist (the aspiring bass player was not quite ready), Dean’s thrown-together threesome played for “all aboard” on Christmas Day 1966.

Upon landing, Dean and the shy bassist formed The Electrical Banana. They were originally The Swinging Banana in homage to Portsmouth’s Swinging Machine (the most revered and feared band of Dean’s hometown), but after thinking about it for a quick minute they nixed the name for obvious reasons! With matching banana yellow uniforms, Vietnamese guitars and a bamboo stalk for a mic stand, the guys were in business, playing at servicemen’s clubs in the off time from their rigorous regular schedules as MP’s. Remarkably, and mostly due to their conceptual banana fever, someone got ahold of and gave Dean the first Velvet Underground LP (with the Warhol banana cover, of course) within a month of its release. The band promptly snagged “There She Goes Again” for their repertoire and even recorded it live in the middle of Vietnam about a month later, along with Dean’s fine jangler “She’s Gone” (also on the compilation LP mentioned below).

In the best sense of American musical spirit and ingenuity, the band threw down pallets, pitched a tent, dragged over a gas-powered generator, hooked everything up and voila! Not only was it recorded, but released (sort of) in the form of ten acetates with individual custom labels crediting “The Banana,” with a copy of the finished product going to all involved. Again, given the decades it took for the Velvet Underground to receive their due respect and rewards, it’s almost impossible to conceive of the true story I just told, that a band recorded a Velvets cover in the middle of a Vietnam jungle in a gas-powered recording studio straight out of Gilligan’s Island, around ONE MONTH after the Velvets debut release!! Talk about being ahead of their time—woah.
 

 
The two Electrical Banana tracks, along with music by The Satellites, The Swinging Machine, and many more can be heard on the compilation Aliens, Psychos and Wild Things (Rare & Unissued Virginia Garage 1964-1967) on the greatest record label in the world, Norton Records. Check out their website.
 
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Big thanks to Simon Trent whose liner notes I used (liberally) to write the Electrical Banana story.
 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Discussion
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Ian Curtis’ original handwritten lyrics for ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’
06.12.2014
07:44 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Joy Division
Ian Curtis


 
After Ian Curtis’ handwritten lyrics for Joy Division’s single most iconic song, “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” surfaced in a Joy Division/New Order exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, images of the wrinkled 35-year-old sheet of notebook paper have been making fairly brisk rounds of Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. It’s not hard to understand why. The single was released very shortly after Curtis’ suicide, which transformed the song into an instant self-elegy for both Curtis and the beloved band. The title, in fact, is literally Curtis’ epitaph.
 

 

 
But even if Curtis had decided not to end his life that day in 1980, and Joy Division had continued, doesn’t it seem likely that it would have remained their signature song anyway? It has an intrinsic and enduring melancholy beauty that surely resonates even with listeners who know nothing of the song’s tragic connections, and its lyrics, though highly literate, still touch the universal. From coffeehouses to arena stage, it’s easily Joy Division’s most covered song. Here’s a roundup of several artists trying their hand.
 

David Gahan of Depeche Mode
 

Nouvelle Vague
 

Probably my favorite despite my growing weariness of ukuleles—Evelyn Evelyn
 

Swans
 

José González of Junip
 

Atoms For Peace
 

And of course, Joy Division‘s original.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Germs drummer Don Bolles is selling off his old punk flyers
06.11.2014
03:03 pm

Topics:
Advertising
History
Music
Punk

Tags:
Germs
Don Bolles

Don Bolles
Butthole Surfers, Descendents, Big Boys, 1982
 
Don Bolles, drummer from the legendary LA punk band The Germs is selling off some choice ephemera over at punkflyer.com. Some of the best things have been sold, but there’s plenty left. Seventy-five bucks isn’t a terrible price for an original Black Flag flyer, right?

These lineups are enough to make my head spin: Black Flag/Bangles/Redd Kross on the same bill? Butthole Surfers/Descendents/Big Boys? Shiiiit.

Plus, Bolles says that he’ll be “adding more flyers on a daily basis,” so by all means, check the listing again and see what’s popped up since your last visit.
 
Don Bolles
Consumers, 1978
 
Don Bolles
The Fall, The Dull, Silver Chalice, Geza X, 1980
 
Don Bolles
The Feelies, Human Hands, 1981
 
Don Bolles
Circle Jerks, Stingers, Rhino 39, Runs, 1981
 
Don Bolles
Wasted Youth, 1983
 
Don Bolles
Black Flag, Redd Kross, Bangles, 1983
 
Don Bolles
45 Grave, Bad Religion, Pandoras, 1984
 
Don Bolles
“What is 45 Grave?” booklet, 1984
 
Don Bolles
Sonic Youth press kit, 1988
 
The Germs, live at the Whiskey, 1979:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Will Rogers calls bankers ‘the most disgustingly rich audience I’ve ever talked to’
06.03.2014
04:42 pm

Topics:
Class War
History

Tags:
Will Rogers
bankers


 
For the longest time my impression of Will Rogers was that he was just a Hollywood cowboy, but the actor and vaudevillian was also a cutting political satirist, arguably in the league of Mark Twain. He was a staunchly liberal populist—anti-war, anti-big business, anti-poverty, and he abhorred the two-party system. Lines like “a fool and his money are soon elected,” and “I belong to no organized party, I’m a Democrat,” gave him an air of relatable cynicism—think of a Jon Stewart with more middle American appeal. Rogers’ humor also laid the groundwork for Stephen Colbert’s cartoonish right-wing ideologue shtick. He even ran a mock presidential campaign in 1928, over 80 years before Colbert’s, on the fictional Anti-Bunk Party ticket.

His healthy habit of self-deprecation usually kept him in the good graces of the folks he mocked, but it’s hard to believe the speech below, from either 1923 or 1924, didn’t piss off a few oligarchs. After making some bad investments in an attempt to produce his own films, Rogers took on a bunch of corporate speaking gigs to pay off his debts—he was considered the most successful “after-dinner speakers” of his time. The performance you hear is actually the studio recording of a talk he gave live, most likely to a conference for the American Bankers Association in 1922.

It’s not likely that Rogers felt conflicted mocking capitalists and taking their money, but he also made no bones about the moral righteousness of paid funny-men, saying in 1923, “banking and after-dinner speaking are two of the most non-essential industries we have in this country. I am ready to reform if they are.”

The transcript is below, but it’s really worth listening to for Rogers’ comic timing and oratory bravado

Loan sharks and interest hounds: I have addressed every form of organized graft in the United States, excepting Congress. So it’s naturally a pleasure to me to appear before the biggest. You are without a doubt the most disgustingly rich audience I’ve ever talked to, with the possible exception of the Bootleggers’ Union Local No. 1, combined with the enforcement officers.

Now I understand you hold this convention every year to announce what the annual gyp will be. I have often wondered where the depositors hold their convention. I had an account in a bank once and the banker asked me to withdraw it. Said I used up more red ink than the account was worth.

I see where your wives come with you. You notice I say “come” not “was brought.” I see where your convention was opened with a prayer. You had to send outside your ranks to get somebody who knew how to pray. You should have had one creditor there. He’d have shown you how to pray. I noticed in the prayer the clergymen announced to the almighty that the bankers were here. Well, it wasn’t exactly an announcement. It was more in the nature of a warning. He didn’t tell the devil, he figured he knew where you all were all the time anyhow.

I see by your speeches that you are very optimistic of the business conditions of the coming year. Boy, I don’t blame you. If I had your dough, I’d be optimistic too.

Will you please tell me what you all do with the vice-presidents the bank has? I guess that’s to get anybody more discouraged before you can see the main guy. The United States is the biggest business institution in the world. They only got one vice-president. Nobody’s ever found anything for him to do!

I’ve met most of you as I come out of the stage door of the Follies every night. I want to tell you, any of you that are capitalized at under a million dollars needn’t hang around there! Our girls may not know their Latin and Greek, but they certainly know their Dun and Bradstreet.

You have a wonderful organization. I understand you have 10,000 here, and with what you have in various federal prisons, your membership is around 30,000.

So goodbye, paupers! You are the finest bunch of Shylocks that ever foreclosed a mortgage on a widow’s home.

 

 
Via The Public Domain Review

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Russian Rhapsody’: Gremlins from the Kremlin battle Hitler in this insane 1944 cartoon
05.30.2014
08:38 am

Topics:
Animation
History

Tags:
Hitler
Stalin
Merrie Melodies


 
Depictions of Russia in American propaganda had some wild vacillation before the Cold War. The first Red Scare followed the Russian Revolution, and anti-communist sentiment really found purchase around 1919. Leftists in the US (many of them immigrants) became a force to be reckoned with, and bitter labor conflicts (plus some radical terrorism) seemed to suggest a Bolshevik revolution was imminent in the Americas. There’s the period however, during World War II, before Truman decided to wave his nuclear dick at Stalin, when Russians were still our Nazi-fighting Allies, and 1944’s Merrie Melodies production “Russian Rhapsody” is a fascinating artifact of that ambivalence America had towards the Soviets.


 
Of course, the cartoon doesn’t quite portray Russians as “dignified.” Rather than some cartoon-friendly version of Red Army soldiers fighting Nazis in the snow, they’re literal “gremlins”—tiny things that are only really capable of sabotaging a plane. (The title was originally “Gremlins from the Kremlin,” but Disney was developing an animated version of Roald Dahl’s The Gremlins at the time and Roy Disney pressured Warner Brothers to change the name.) Regardless, the gremlins are clearly the good guys, whipping out a mask of Stalin to frighten Der Führer.


 
In addition to being a really beautiful (and profoundly weird) piece of animation, “Russian Rhapsody” has some great dog whistles. The cartoon starts out with Hitler delivering a speech that’s a direct reference to a scene from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. As an inside joke, some of the gibberish German Hitler spouts is actually the names of animators and studio staff. The gremlin faces are actually based on caricatures of Warner Brothers legends like Chuck Jones, Robert Clampett, Friz Freleng, and Leon Schlesinger. The berserk musical score was provided by the great cartoon composer Carl Stalling.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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